"What if our food packaging was just like an orange peel, and returned back to nature immediately after its use?"
Plastic used across international value-chains for food and beverage packaging currently represents a staggering two-thirds of the world’s plastic waste.
To address this waste problem, the quest for sustainable solutions from a host of bio-based innovators is to make this kind of waste a thing of the past while maintaining packaging standards.
A clever new product from Tipa Corp may have the answer to this issue with its biodegradable qualities and viable packaging alternatives.
Their challenge was simple; How to create effective plastic packaging solutions that are so sustainable, not only in their production processes but equally in the packaging itself, that they leave no more permanent waste of other than organic waste such as an orange peel.
So how do you make packaging as disposable as an orange peel?
Tipa’s vision for a sustainable, biodegradable plastic packaging was conceived of in response to the timely issue of unnecessary and damaging plastic waste that bilges from landfills across the globe. Much of this plastic waste is destined to sit inert at such landfill sites without a biodegradable solution.
While bio-plastic product alternatives have been around for over 20 years; largely, these bio-plastics have not yet delivered on the promise of retaining the same packaging qualities as their traditional plastic formulations, while also being capable of biodegrading 100% with no harmful footprint.
Tipa @was started to meet the challenge of creating sustainable flexible packaging by creating advanced bio-plastic materials applied in their clever new packaging solutions. The packaging was based around the goal to create useful packaging that can be returned back to nature after it is disposed of, just like an orange peel becomes a part of the food waste stream.
The flexible packaging challenge
Flexible packaging, the kind of packaging used in a wider range of consumer products such as fresh produce, coffee, snacks, granola bars, sealable plastic bags, stand-up pouches or grains is a growing segment of the global packaging market was used as the starting point for Tipa's biodegradable packaging solution.
At present, most flexible packaging cannot be practically recycled leaving a huge gap in the circular economy and stimulating the already tenous global waste crisis.
Outside of the limited infrastructure of recycling practice from collection to compost, flexible packaging isn’t made of pure plastic polymers but rather made by blending several materials (this is necessary to give it the properties of “ordinary” plastics). These blended materials make recycling nearly impossible, a damaging aspect to packaging that Tipa is addressing with it's new 'orange peel' solution.
Tipa’s products are a game changer. It's packaging is bio-based, 100% compostable and has similar mechanical and shelf-life properties as ordinary plastic.
The idea for fully decomposable packaging, like many great innovations, came from nature. Specifically, the way that the orange packages it's segments. Segments in an orange are packaged in a protective multi-layer peel, which once discarded, proceeds to decompose and leave no toxic residue. The additional benefit of this process is that the compost left behind can be used for future generations of plant growth as 100% of the orange peel returns to nature.
To ensure the viability of their bio-degradable and compostable packaging, Tipa had to ensure it had the same protective functionality as any equivalent “ordinary” plastic package – to efficiently act as a barrier between food and the environment. It also needed to seamlessly fit into existing manufacturing practices.
To successfully produce competitive alternative to tradtional plastics, this key technology needed to meet the following profile:
- Shelf life and durability
- Sealing ability
As such, Tipa's alternative products were gifted with the same mechanical properties as most ordinary plastics, serving the needs of both consumers and manufacturers. Consumers enjoy the same level of packaging functionality while manufacturers can be assured that the bio-plastics meet all their manufacturing requirements to be adaptable to their current packaging and production practices.
Tipa offers a range of bioplastic solutions; coextruded transparent and high-transparent or coated/metalized cast films, which are sealable and printable on both sides or laminated as printing, typically used for packaging of fresh produce, bakery, grain-mill products or bags. Their barrier films are characterised by their improved barrier performance comparable to alternative market plastics.
Their transparent and non transparent laminate series is offered for a variety of food segments and for several packaging applications including stand-up pouches, pillows FFS, FS, bags applications for food segments such as granola bars, potato chips and other snacks, grains and dried foods, vitamins capsules, pictured above.
Tipa and the circular economy:
As a champion of sustainable practices, Tipa ensured that environmental implications were kept in mind throughout the entire development process.
Tipa's bioplastic product has the same 'end-of-life' organic waste has while also offering consumers and brands the same durability and shelf-life to compete with traditional portfolios of plastics.
All elements along the value chain, from the sourcing of raw materials, through to the physical components of the film for the packaging, manufacturing processes and delivery to end users were considered chiefly for their environmental impact.
As a result of Tipa's strong professional team consisting of thought-leaders from across researchers and PHDs, professional experts in chemistry and bio-plastics, industrial experts and food engineers, their bioplastics are successfully set to compete with less unsustainable industry plastics.
In their own words, Tipa have met their objectives with this plant-based packaging solution by creating a product;
"Just like an orange peel, so nature won’t even notice we’re here"
There is certainly an appetite amongst consumers that share their vision for implementing 100% sustainable packaging. This customer demand will be reflected in the growing purchasing power to opt for products with renewable packaging.
As such, Tipa's packaging solution is one that benefits both consumer brands and the environment. Truly, their new technology promises to meet the growing demand for sustainable and biodegradable packaging while feeding the soil for future growth.
Tipa are speaking at Bio-Based Live on 31 May - 1 June, 2017. Click here to learn more.